By Sharon Robb
HANGZHOU, China, December 11, 2018—On an exciting opening day of upsets and world records at the 14th FINA World Short Course Championships, Daiya Seto of Japan took center stage in his dual against world record holder and defending champion Chad Le Clos of South Africa.
Seto reeled in early leader Le Clos in the final 50 meters of the 200-meter butterfly to break the world record in 1:48.24. Le Clos’ previous record was 1:48.56. Both swimmers came in under world record time and are now one-two in the all-time rankings. Le Clos was second in 1:48.32 breaking his own African national record. China’s Zhuhao Li was third in 1:50.39.
Clay and Bolles alum Caeleb Dressel led off the men’s 4×100-meter freestyle relay with an American record of 45.66 which buoyed the U.S. to a world record in 3:03.03, breaking the previous mark of 3:03.30 set in 2009. Other relay members were Blake Pieroni, Michael Chadwick and Ryan Held. Russia was second in 3:03.11 and Brazil was third in 3:05.15.
After breaking the Lithuanian national record in morning prelims by four seconds, Danas Rapsys jumped out to an early lead and never wavered to win the 400-meter freestyle in a championship record 3:34.01, again breaking his own national record and third on the all-time list. Henrik Christiansen of Norway was second in 3:36.64 and Gabriele Detti of Italy was third in 3:37.54.
In a thrilling women’s race with three different leaders, Aussie Ariarne Titmus emerged as the winner in 1:51.38. American Mallory Comerford was second in 1:51.81 and Femke Heemskerk of the Netherlands was third in 1:52.36.
Hungary’s Iron Woman Katinka Hosszu won her second 400-meter individual medley world short course title in 4:21.40, close to world record pace for most of the race. St. Petersburg’s Melanie Margalis was second in a career-best 4:25.84, third-fastest American of all-time. Fantine Lesaffre of France was third in 4:27.31.
In front of his hometown fans, China’s Shun Wang did not disappoint winning the 200-meter individual medley in 1:51.01 and knocking off American Josh Prenot, who was second in 1:52.69. Japan’s Hiromasa Fujimori was third in 1:52.73.
The U.S. women won the 4×100-meter freestyle relay knocking off world record and championship record holder Netherlands, 3:78.78 to 3:28.02. U.S. relay members were Olivia Smoglia, Lia Neal, Mallory Comerford and Kelsi Worrell Dahlia.
Four-time Olympian and world record holder Alia Atkinson of Jamaica and South Florida Aquatic Club set herself up to repeat as world champion in the 50-meter breaststroke earning the top seed in 29.54 for today’s final.
SOFLO teammate Abby (Araoluwa)Oyetunji, a Somerset Academy alum, made her world championship debut for Nigeria. She finished 52nd in the 200-meter freestyle in 2:16.23.
Other Florida swimmer results:
13. Anh Vien Nguyen, Vietnam/St. Augustine, 400-meter individual medley, 4:37.28
13. Marcelo Acosta, El Salvador/Azura, 400-meter freestyle, 3:42.74.
35. Patrick Groters, Aruba/NSU University School/Pine Crest Swimming, 200-meter individual medley, 2:02.16.
52. Abby Oyetunji, Nigeria/SOFLO, 200-meter freestyle, 2:16.23.
The short course worlds are swum in short course meters and held in the years when FINA does not hold its world championships (currently this means in even years). The short course championship is swimming-only where world championships feature all five aquatic disciplines.
A field of 960 swimmers, with several top names missing, from 178 countries are competing for 46 world titles over six days at the Hangzhou Olympic and International Expo Center Tennis Centre. The center is uniquely shaped like a lotus bowl with an 8,000-seat capacity.
Prelims are 9 a.m. in China, 8:30 p.m. EST in the U.S. Finals are 7 p.m. in China and 6 a.m. EST in the U.S.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com